Forum: Advice / Health & Nutrition

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re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By KeepOnSinginPremium member
On Mon Mar 04, 2013 01:39 AM
Llama -- You had the option of dropping gym?!?? I had to take gym every year until I graduated...and when I got to middle school (6th grade), my time in gym increased. I had it every other day through middle and high school. (In middle school, we had blue and gold days, and in high school we had a 6 day schedule, so we had even and odd days). This meant that one week I had gym 2 days, and the next I had it 3. I would have loved the option to drop gym!! It was always my least favorite class because we were required to participate in all sorts of sports, and I'm terrible at most all sports, so it was extremely embarrassing for me. In 9th grade, we had to take swimming, which everyone hated because you are so exposed (although it was split into girls/guys, so at least we didn't have it coed which would have been worse). But we also had to do archery, basketball, volleyball and baseball/softball along with other sports like ultimate frisbee, two hand touch football and others. And it wasn't like it was different every day. We spent about 4 weeks doing each sport, give or take, depending on the teacher and what they liked best. The only way you could get out of the gym requirement in high school was if you did a sport competitively or professionally outside of school for at least 10 hours a week, and you had to have documented proof...so almost no one gets exempt.

Back on topic though:

My school district NEVER weighed us for any reason whatsoever. The only things we had were vision, hearing and scoliosis screenings, and if there was ever an outbreak, lice checks. I never would've thought that schools would weigh kids! I honestly don't really see why they would, especially since schools require yearly physicals for enrollment anyway...so if your kid is overweight or obese, you'll find out when they either go to the doctor, or get the physical at school from the NP or whatever they have in the district...and not by way of "fat letter." I don't think that's appropriate to do at all.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By UberGoobermember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Mar 04, 2013 02:41 AM
since schools require yearly physicals for enrollment anyway


This is NOT true in every state. If children are required to get physicals to attend school, then I don't see a need for a school based BMI screening. But as I said, That is NOT true in every state. Where I live, you only have to provide proof of vaccination (which are usually completed well before kindergarten) and a sports physical IF you are participating in sports. That is a HUGE portion of the student body left out who may not be seeing the doctor on a regular basis.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By KeepOnSinginPremium member
On Mon Mar 04, 2013 02:44 AM
UberGoober wrote:

since schools require yearly physicals for enrollment anyway


This is NOT true in every state. If children are required to get physicals to attend school, then I don't see a need for a school based BMI screening. But as I said, That is NOT true in every state. Where I live, you only have to provide proof of vaccination (which are usually completed well before kindergarten) and a sports physical IF you are participating in sports. That is a HUGE portion of the student body left out who may not be seeing the doctor on a regular basis.


I didn't realize that. Here you have to have one every year.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By hummingbird
On Mon Mar 04, 2013 03:34 AM
Recess isn't just about exercise, it's also about getting social time too. As humans we are social beings, we live in groups and our children need time to practice their social skills, without recess this does not happen because most parents are too scared about letting their kids out to play on their own.

The UK were sending these letters out over a year ago, I'm really surprised to hear that they were ahead of the game there. I have to say they were greeted with the same dismay there as they are now in the US.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By iliahmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Mar 04, 2013 04:29 AM
I think there is a bit of a misunderstanding here. The letters were not ONLY sent to the Obese-By-BMI-Standard kids.

They were sent to every single kid.

It's an information sheet on BMI with the kid's BMI indicated. I think it's intended to be "This could potentially be a health issue of concern." and not "YOUR KID IS SO DAMN FAT".
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By Moonlitefairy06member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon Mar 04, 2013 05:28 AM
New York State does require gm every year of high school, even if you are on a school or private sports team. From talking to other people in various this seems pretty rare. NY is pretty stringent on it's requirements with classes and testing and stuff. I went to a private school but for the most part we stuck with the public school standards and took regents exams and so on. In 9th and 10th grade I had a gym and chorus (choice of art, chorus or band) every other day. In 11th grade I had gym and health class every other day. In 12th grade, I had gym every day for one semester and then a 1/2 credit elective every day the other semester. I don' know about the physicals though. I certainly didn't get one every year in high school, it might be a school district requirement rather than a state requirement. I don't think it's because I was in private schools though, I'd be very surprised to hear if kids in the area public schools had to get physicals every year. Up until 8th grade (at another private school) we had height, weight, scoliosis, hearing and vision testing by the school nurse. From 9th-12th grade we just had vision testing. If you were on a school sports team in high school they required a physical by the nurse that I think included BMI, and maybe testing your heart rate or something. Nothing too extensive, no blood tests or anything like that. Obviously we would have to keep up with whatever required vaccines there were at certain ages though.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By oz_helenmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:01 AM
IMHO, schools are being expected to raise children now, not just educate them. The curriculum is crowded enough without taking time away from learning to do weigh-ins.

Helen
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By UberGoobermember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Mar 06, 2013 03:48 PM
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By kandykanePremium member
On Wed Mar 06, 2013 06:48 PM
"In other words, don't tell parents obesity is a major public health problem. Tell them how family dinners and exercise can turbocharge their kids, and you might get them to think, "Yeah, I can totally see my kid being a superstar!"

So, then.... why aren't the schools doing exactly this? Instead of taking the negative track like the article mentions with these so called 'fat letters'?

kk~
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents (karma: 1)
By sjerosemember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Mar 06, 2013 01:01 PM
Edited by sjerose (158555) on 2013-03-06 13:02:23
I really think that this is looking at just one consequence of an overarching greater problem - that of unhealthy lifestyles. Instead of promoting fat shaming, why don't we as a socity start promoting healthy lifestyles, no matter what our size is?

Seriously, we fat people KNOW we're fat, we see it every day! How can you possibly think we don't already get enough external criticism about the state of our bodies, that you have to say "they just don't realize it, I better let this stranger/friend/family member know"? Just because a person is still fat when you see them, doesn't mean you have to inform them of that fact. No one but themselves and their doctor really know - and NEED to know - what their state of health is, was, or should be. You can put any mask on it you think you need to - "It's for the kids' own good", "I'm worried about their health", etc., when you judge a person's overall health purely on their height/weight ratio (which is all BMI is), you are still fat shaming, only now *ensuring* that even younger kids realize how unacceptable their body is in society.

We need to remove ourselves from the concept of "fighting the obesity epidemic". My body is not your battlefield. I totally agree that we in the US need to start kicking it in gear and lead healthier lifestyles, but a person's shape is not the way to judge an individual on that fact.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By UberGoobermember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Mar 06, 2013 09:48 PM
You can put any mask on it you think you need to - "It's for the kids' own good", "I'm worried about their health", etc., when you judge a person's overall health purely on their height/weight ratio (which is all BMI is), you are still fat shaming, only now *ensuring* that even younger kids realize how unacceptable their body is in society.


You honestly think that informing people of their BMI is fat shaming?

As I have said multiple times, BMI is a screening tool, not the end all be all measure of health. It's cheap, it's fast, anyone with a tape measure and a scale can do it. And as I have said before, regular access to healthcare is something people take for granted. In the United States, it's currently a privilege. Many children in some school districts are probably not seeing a doctor at all.

And as for "fat people know they are fat!" Well, you might be right when it comes to adults. And you might even be right when it comes to to the kids themselves. But you are NOT correct when it comes to the parents involved (which are the people that control the food in the house and the household in general). I saw a girl in clinic one day. She was obese (by BMI) and carried a large amount of abdominal body fat (a risk factor for cardiovascular disease). She was unhappy with her body, but her mom thought she was fine and it was just puberty. The girl's blood pressure was very high and had been on a previous visit too. I referred them to the nutritionist at the clinic.

Obesity is an independent risk factor for a whole multitude of illnesses...things that can start much much much younger than most parents realize. Diabetes used to be "juvenile" and "adult". Now we know that kids and adults can and frequently do get both kinds. Kids have high blood pressure...parents do not know that this can happen to their child. "Oh, I didn't know kids could get that!"

But schools don't have the time or resources to measure every child's blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol. That would be awesome if that could happen though. Informing parents of their child's BMI does NOT say that "Your child is unhealthy. They are unacceptable to society. Period. The End." It's saying "Your child's health MAY be at risk based on this one measurement".
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By sjerosemember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Thu Mar 07, 2013 08:12 AM
Edited by sjerose (158555) on 2013-03-07 08:14:04
Yes, I do. Sending ignorant/rose-colored-glasses-wearing parents a letter that says "Your child is at a health risk based on their weight" infers that the only way these children can become healthier if they lose weight. And that is just flat out untrue.

Based on the evidence that exists, there isn’t any reason to believe that more than a tiny fraction of people can achieve long term weight loss. In fact, by far the most likely outcome of a weight loss attempt is weight GAIN, so even if someone believes that being thinner will make people healthier, the fact that we don’t know how to get that done means that “lose weight” is not an appropriate public health message.

I encourage you to read the commentary that Ragen Chastain, a Health At Every Size (HAES) activist and National Champion 'super-obese' dancer, has written on this very topic, regarding the BMI Report Cards -
danceswithfat.wordpress.com . . .

In it, she quotes and comments upon a specific research study by the University of Minnesota:
“None of the behaviors being used by adolescents (in 1999) for weight-control purposes predicted weight loss[in 2006]…Of greater concern were the negative outcomes associated with dieting and the use of unhealthful weight-control behaviors.” In the last decade hospitalizations for eating disorders for kids under 12 are up 119%. Kids. Under. Twelve. Kids are plenty focused on their weight – they don’t need the Massachusetts government’s help.


The exammple you provided was of a very unhealthy adolescent. You mentioned that she lived a sedentary lifestyle and had high blood pressure. If, after changing her eating habits and increasing her activity levels, her blood pressure and other vital signs improve, but her weight doesn't drop by a pound, are you still going to hound her because of it? You might say no, because you are part of her doctor's team; it's your job. But her school system doesn't know her journey; they only know her weight, and no matter how much healthier her life is now by the choices she has made, she is still forever going to be told by an arbitrary height/weight ratio (which, I might add, was NEVER intended for use as a health measurement), that she hasn't changed a thing and her health risks are the same. How do you think a teenager is going to feel about it?

There are much better ways to inform parents about the importance of instilling healthy living habits in their children without mentioning their weight, that won't affect a child's self-esteem and mental health, than telling them their weight is a problem.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By kandykanePremium member
On Thu Mar 07, 2013 04:15 PM
Based on the evidence that exists, there isn’t any reason to believe that more than a tiny fraction of people can achieve long term weight loss. In fact, by far the most likely outcome of a weight loss attempt is weight GAIN, so even if someone believes that being thinner will make people healthier, the fact that we don’t know how to get that done means that “lose weight” is not an appropriate public health message.


This. So much this! If it were so simple a solution to just "lose weight" the weight loss industry wouldn't be a $60 billion dollar industry, which I might add is frought with failure. The unhealthy habits practiced in the attempt to lose weight are far more harmful in the long run than carrying an extra 20 lbs.

kk~
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By LlamaLlamaDuckmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Thu Mar 07, 2013 04:39 PM
Taking phys ed didn't make me anymore fit or lose weight... just made me miserable. I hated it.

I think that it is possible to be overweight and healthy just like it is possible to be skinny ans unhealthy.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By cthompson1474member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Thu Mar 07, 2013 09:44 AM
Edited by cthompson1474 (249884) on 2013-03-07 09:46:31
But there is a simple solution to being healthy and being healthy often comes hand and hand with losing weight. The solution is educating yourself on nutrition and exercise and then applying that new knowledge to your body and plate. It is a simple solution but it is not easy or quick. That is why the industry is so huge because these weight loss places advertise quick weight loss by robbing your body of an essential nutrient.

Maybe that is the focus the schools should be taking. I think we are making a lot of assumptions on what these letters say. Maybe they come with a disclaimer that BMI doesn't always give a correct health assessment. It might provide information on where to get the knowledge on healthy eating and fitness. It might simply be "Suzie's BMI as of 3/7/2013" along with a BMI scale.

The quote in the article is worded very nicely in my opinion but is that the whole letter or does it come with any additional info?
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By KeepOnSinginPremium member
On Thu Mar 07, 2013 07:03 PM
LlamaLlamaDuck wrote:

Taking phys ed didn't make me anymore fit or lose weight... just made me miserable. I hated it.

I think that it is possible to be overweight and healthy just like it is possible to be skinny ans unhealthy.


Same here.

The only year I didn't mind it too much (outside of elementary school since I pretty much liked all of elementary school) was my 10th grade year because my teacher understood that not everyone is talented or interested in sports, so he was much more lenient about things. For example, when we had our volleyball unit, he split the class into two groups: a group that wanted to play competitively, and a group that didn't. He did the same with basketball as well. This actually encouraged many, myself included to participate more because we didn't have to worry about being judged harshly by the people who were more into sports and whatnot. This was especially great for me in the volleyball unit because I have zero hand-eye coordination, so I'm really terrible at volleyball...but when we did volleyball in our non-competitive group, we would cheer for each other whether you were on the same team or not if you hit the ball well, not just if you made a successful spike -- things like that...and it was actually fun!

I feel like if gym class was always like that, kids would get more out of it because they wouldn't mind participating so much. I know that when I was forced to do things, I would do less than when I wasn't.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By cthompson1474member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Thu Mar 07, 2013 07:37 PM
In school our gym class gave you the option of playing sports or doing cardio. Sometimes the whole class had to run. You could also take your music with you. It was relaxing. I was always walking or running never did sports.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By UberGoobermember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Mar 11, 2013 06:15 AM
I wish everyone could have had a positive phys ed experience like I did. They had a curriculum change shortly after I entered high school and offered many phys ed options:
1. Team sports (ultimate frisbee, kickball, softball, football, basketball etc.)
2. Partner/small group sports (badminton, tennis, volleyball)
3. Individual fitness (which is what I did): We did all kinds of different workouts, jazzercise, hip hop abs, tae bo, pilates, yoga...it was a blast and I actually broke a sweat in PE for the first time because I was doing activities that I liked to do.

Everyone did some running on the track when it was nice out and everyone did a short weight lifting component.

We also had wilderness PE which involved learning how to make campfires and hiking and mountain biking.

Man...I miss PE haha.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By CaffeinePremium member
On Mon Mar 11, 2013 09:47 AM
^ You were lucky then. For us, it was swimming for 3 weeks, athletics for the rest of summer, a brief stint at tennis then netball and hockey for the rest of the year (unless it was raining, where we learned the theory of hockey). Every single year. I hated PE. It did little to encourage a love of movement and exercise in those of us who weren't already on sports teams outside of school.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By kandykanePremium member
On Mon Mar 11, 2013 02:19 PM
I hated PE, also. It was your basic basketball, softball, kickball, running bleachers in the gym (torture) etc. If you weren't inclined toward team athletics, there was nothing for you. Remember the last kid chosen for the teams? Yeah, that was me. In 7th grade, for 10 weeks I went to one school where we got to go swimming and learned some gymnastics. That was great! But then I moved and it was back to basketball, kickball, softball... By the time I got to high school I discovered they had a rule - if you were in marching band or on the dance team you could exempt the PE class. You better believe I made tracks to make that dance team, even though I had no dance training at the time. Unfortunately, it was one of those teams which had a "sponsor" not a certified dance teacher and she knew little about technique or safe exercises. The school did offer a class called lifetime sports, which was tennis, golf, bowling, etc. But that was mostly for seniors and most of the seniors had already fulfilled their PE credits.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a good PE experience. That is a huge part of the problem, IMO.

kk~
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents (karma: 1)
By ghilliegirlan
On Fri Mar 22, 2013 02:41 AM
This really isn't a new thing by any means, I received a letter similar to this when I was in elementary school(8 or so years ago), it contained BMI readings and the scores on our fitness tests. My school had 30 minute recess every day, gym 2/3 days a week for the same time(it alternated every week) which I feel was pretty sufficient for an elementary school child.
The letter came back saying that I was in the overweight category(not obese). We were told not to but as kids of course everyone compared their letters and I was the only child in the class over 100 pounds and it was a mortifying experience to me.
I wasn't a particularly thin child by any means, you could say I was chubby and could have been more active than I was, but nevertheless I don't think any child should have their teachers and peers judging their weight and health, that is their doctors job only. A doctor can also accurately take into accounts other factors of health outside of school.
The situation with health in high schools is what is more concerning to me. In my school there are two kinds of lunches, those provided under the lunch program and those that are ala carte. It should be noted that I live in a rather affluent area but there are a small number of kids on a discounted/free lunch program, myself included. The school funded lunches are the standard processed, fake foods that they serve K-12 and they keep the same serving size through every grade as well. So the four small chicken fingers and apple sauce that would feed an elementary school student does not provide proper sustenance for an almost adult student, which of course only encourages snacking on unhealthy foods to keep from being hungry for the rest of the day. Up until last year everything in the cafeteria other than chips and ice cream were included on the regular lunch program; this year now soups, extra sides, and wraps are all extra charge. The best thing about my cafeteria was always the wraps, which you could order anything you wanted on; fresh veggies and lunch meat etc. it was a filling healthy option to the processed food. Now that it is ala carte the people on the discounted/free lunch program can no longer eat these foods and many students are deterred from spending their own money in the lunch room.
In high school there is no such thing as recess, obviously teens do not need playground equipment and such but I feel like a period of rest and going outside is healthy for people of any age, especially stressed teenagers. Many teenagers can't have a lunch everyday due to scheduling errors, or only have lunch opposite gym(3/2 days a week). I find this encourages even more unhealthy behavior of fasting and then excessive eating due to hunger after a 7 hour day of school.
As someone who sees it first hand trying to change the obesity problem through schools has become a corrupted effort. Cafeteria's just serve cheap food in smaller and smaller portions to meet calorie regulations without true interest for the students health. Necessary things in a healthy diet such as drinking are discouraged(water is extra and juice is only served in small quantities to regulate sugar content). Eating a decent well balanced meal has been reserved as a luxury for those who can afford it and all of the palatable filling options to students have been taken away. Honestly I would prefer the government to stay out of this and let students and their parents(when appropriate) to control what and how much their students eat as it should be.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By Gioiamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Mar 23, 2013 12:21 AM
I feel like I also lucked out when it came to Phys Ed. I went to a private school and it was mandatory to take Phys Ed for all of high school except 2 semesters. However, beginning my freshman year they also added another option, taking Phys Ed before school started. I did that for all except my last semester Senior year and had no idea until then what a joke regular Phys Ed was.

I took it in the morning so I could take 8 other classes during the day, it was otherwise impossible to fit in all my regular classes, religion, band, drama and art. They just kind of let the gym teacher work up the curriculum for those of us that did the morning class. It was 40 minutes 3 times a week I think and occasionally one of those days was just learning about health from a book/our teacher. One of our units was just working in our state of the art weight room that never got utilized during regular gym class because there was too many kids. We actually learned how to use all the machines and it was very beneficial. Another unit was just outdoor stuff, we ran around the neighborhood and did track and field activities. Another unit was things like yoga and other classes like that. We never had enough people to do larger sports, and I think we really benefited from that. I think there needs to be a major revamp as far as what schools THINK is good physical education and what really works.

I think we also had, for the most part, healthier lunches at my school. I mean there was no junk food available, and the hot lunches were moderately nutritious. You either ate the hot lunch, salad bar, or brought your own. When I went to public school for one year, there was always the options of the "snack bar" in addition to the hot lunch. It was all crap. The public high school up the street from us had pizza and burger vendors there everyday. It must be financially motivated, otherwise why would a school offer pizza and fries to their students everyday?

Schools shouldn't bear all of the burden, as I still think there should be education at home. But, would it hurt to quit feeding the kids crap and then having them play badminton or archery like that is somehow helping...? You don't have to spend all this time measuring and then sending out a letter to make improvements.
re: About the 'fat letters' schools are sending parents
By AmericanAnja
On Sat Mar 23, 2013 04:09 PM
I am a high school and was victim of the "high BMI alert" notifications to parents when I was in elementary/middle school. I was a 4-discipline dancer (irish, tap, jazz, ballet),and played lacrosse and soccer. I was certainly in good shape, but having large (muscular) calves and being short, my gym teacher's scale said I had a high BMI. It destroyed me, and even though my family and doctor assured me that someone in 8th grade with a 23 inch waist is certainly not obese, it still hurt. I would prefer them to alert parents if the children failed a fitness test- those are better indicators of health IMO than these BMI tests. Luckily, my school doesn't do BMI tests now for this very reason- the way they do them in gym class is certainly not accurate.
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